Report: 75 Percent of Workers Not Trained for Shift to Flexible Work

TechSmith, which provides visual communications tools for the workplace, partnered with workplace research-based consulting firm Global Workplace Analytics and Caryatid Workplace Consultancy, to release the 2024 Workplace Flexibility trends report. This document examines the state of where, when and how people work and collaborate. It also explores the importance of different wants and needs across generations, company size and workplace experience.

Based on a survey of 900 U.S. leaders in HR, real estate, IT and product roles, it indicates that most employers have not adapted their practices to support shifts to flexible work

Just five years ago, less than five percent of employees had the option to work remotely on a regular basis. Today, the report finds that 58 percent now have that option at least some of the time. But while a majority of employers have embraced a change in “where” people work, many have not adopted the new practices they need to do it well. Nearly 75 percent of respondents indicated that their employer has not trained its managers to lead a distributed team, established team or meeting norms, nor adopted best practices to support working across distances.

“The pandemic forced the majority of organizations into hybrid work practically overnight, with no time to consider how to support new practices,” said Wendy Hamilton, CEO of TechSmith. “Unfortunately, some businesses are reverting back to in-office because they haven’t committed to meeting the needs of a flexible workforce. Instead, organizations need to redesign meeting protocols, tech stacks, and collaboration approaches. Returning to office full-time instead of investing in flexibility will hurt productivity, recruiting and employee engagement.”

“Rather than fretting over whether people should work in an office, remotely or some combination of the two, organizations should be asking themselves, ‘How can we empower our people to do their best work wherever they do it’?’” said Kate Lister, the president of Global Workplace Analytics.

Other key takeaways from the report included:

  • Real-time communication outpacing asynchronous collaboration 55 percent to 45 percent, with the majority wanting more asynchronous alternatives.
  • In-office workers facing more interruptions than their hybrid counterparts with reduced productivity.
  • Respondents considering ad hoc and unplanned meetings to be the lowest value meeting by far at seven percent.
  • Generation and level in the organization influencing flexibility, with managers (44 percent) more tethered to an office than senior leaders or individual contributors (less than 27 percent).
  • Fully-remote increasingly becoming a small business luxury, with the smallest companies – with 1-9 employees – far more likely to allow full remote (23 percent) than mid-sized (four percent) and large companies (nine percent).
  • In-office employees experiencing less flexibility around working hours than hybrid workers.

The complete 2024 Workplace Flexibility Trends Report can be downloaded here.